Music

INTERNATIONAL FILM: OTHER TRADITIONS, OTHER PRACTICES

Outside Hollywood, national cinemas the world over have adopted and adapted film music to fit their own particular needs, sometimes emulating conventional Hollywood practice, sometimes departing from it in distinctive ways, sometimes ignoring it altogether. As compared to Hollywood, international film, historically, has been characterized by a less capital-intensive and elaborate machine for the production and distribution of film. Funding is different, relying more on government subsidies than sales, and many national cinemas have been or are protected from competition by legislation (import quotas, for instance). International directors have also been more interested in using composers from the world of art music, resulting in more stylistic diversity. In Britain, Arthur Bliss (1891–1975), Arthur Benjamin, and William Walton (1902–1983) each composed important early film scores. Most memorable are the scores for the futuristic Things to Come (1936), by Bliss; The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), by Benjamin and containing his original composition "The Storm Cloud Cantata" (retained by Herrmann in his score for the remake in 1956); and several of Laurence Olivier's adaptations of Shakespeare, including Hamlet (1948) and Henry V (1944), by Walton. Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872–1958) composed scores for British documentaries in the 1930s and 1940s, with Song of Ceylon (1934) an important example. Michael Nyman (b. 1944) scored a series of films for Peter Greenaway, including The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), and Patrick Doyle did the same for Kenneth Branagh, including his adaptations of Henry V (1989) and Hamlet (1996).

Maurice Jaubert worked prominently in early French sound film, with Jean Vigo, René Clair ( Quatorze Juillet , [ July 14 , 1933]), and Marcel Carné ( Le Jour se lève , [ Daybreak , 1939]), before his untimely death during World War II. But George Auric (1899–1983) proved France's most prolific and versatile composer of the pre-and postwar eras. In France he scored Le Sang d'un poète ( The Blood of a Poet , 1930), La Belle et la bête ( Beauty and the Beast , 1946), and Orphée ( Orpheus , 1950) for the avant-garde filmmaker Jean Cocteau; in Britain, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951); and in Hollywood, Roman Holiday (1953). Maurice Jarre established his career in France in the 1950s and 1960s and catapulted to the top of the international "A" list with scores for Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). The French New Wave brought a new set of French composers to the fore, including Pierre Jansen (b. 1930), who scored over thirty films for Claude Chabrol, and Georges Delerue, who worked with Jean-Luc Godard ( Le Mépris , [ Contempt , 1963]), Alain Resnais ( Hiroshima mon amour , 1959), and François Truffaut (eleven films, including Jules et Jim , 1962) before embarking on an international career, scoring Il Conformista ( The Conformist , 1970), and eventually settling in Hollywood. Among the most striking film scores of the twentieth century are those for several Godard films that capture the unconventionality and iconoclasm of the director's filmmaking style: Martial Solal's (b. 1927) jazzy score for À bout de souffle

SERGEI PROKOFIEV
b. Sontsovka, Ukraine, Russia, 23 April 1891, d. Moscow, USSR (now Russia), 5 March 1953

It is sometimes described as one of the greatest film scores ever written; it is often described as one of the worst soundtracks ever recorded. The score for Alexander Nevsky (1938), one of three films that the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev scored for the legendary director Sergei Eisenstein, is to this day one of cinema's most striking and memorable film scores.

Like many international film composers, Prokofiev, born in Ukraine but raised in St. Petersburg, had an established reputation in art music when he turned to film scoring. His work with Eisenstein on Nevsky was a collaboration in the fullest sense of the word: some of the film was shot to Prokofiev's music and some of Prokofiev's music was composed to Eisenstein's footage. In The Film Sense , Eisenstein wrote that Prokofiev found the inner essence of the images, capturing the dynamic play of the frame's graphic content instead of merely illustrating action on the screen. The film was conceived to honor a medieval Russian hero and to ignite Soviet passions against Germany on the eve of World War II. Eisenstein, in trouble with Soviet authorities, had not made a film in years; Prokofiev, who lived extensively abroad before returning to Moscow in 1936, was finding his career similarly stalled. When Stalin himself asked to see the film, Eisenstein and Prokofiev hastily finished a rough-cut of the film's image track and soundtrack to meet with his approval. (Stalin liked the film, at least initially; Nevsky 's fortunes would rise and fall with the Soviets' shifting political alliances during World War II.) In fact, it is highly likely that this rough-cut version is the film we see and hear today. Given the state of Soviet sound recording in the 1930s, the speed with which the score was recorded, and the size of the orchestra that performed it, the soundtrack is crude at best. Today, symphony orchestras around the world have accompanied screenings of Alexander Nevsky live in the concert hall, giving Prokofiev's score the performance it deserves.

On what turned out to be his last concert tour of the West in 1938, Prokofiev found himself in Hollywood, with his wife and children back in Moscow as collateral against his return. Touring Disney Studios, he met with Walt Disney himself to discuss the animation of Peter and the Wolf , one of Prokofiev's most enduring concert pieces, for Fantasia (1940). That idea would come to fruition not in Fantasia , however, but in Make Mine Music (1946), in which the Peter and the Wolf segment becomes Prokofiev's only "Hollywood" film score.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

Lieutenant Kije (1934), Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944), Ivan the Terrible, Part II (banned 1946, released 1958)

FURTHER READING

Eisenstein, Sergei M. "Form and Content: Practice." In The Film Sense , translated and edited by Jay Leyda, 157–216. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1942; revised ed., 1975.

Merritt, Russell. "Recharging Alexander Nevsky: Tracking the Eisenstein-Prokofiev War Horse." Film Quarterly 48, no. 2 (Winter 1994–1995): 34–45.

Kathryn Kalinak

Sergei Prokofiev.

( Breathless , 1960); Michel Legrand's (b. 1932) truncated theme and variations for Vivre sa vie ( My Life to Live , 1962); Antoine Duhamel's (b. 1925) score for Weekend (1967), which features a concert pianist in a barnyard; Gabriel Yared's (b. 1949) score for Sauve qui peut (la vie) ( Every Man for Himself , 1980), where characters in a shoot-out run past the orchestra playing the score; and Prénom Carmen ( First Name: Carmen , 1983) with its mix of Beethoven, Bizet, and Tom Waits. The much-noticed score for Diva (1981) features a stylish mix of opera and techno, with recording itself becoming a part of the plot.

Hans Eisler worked in Germany and France before and after his stint in Hollywood, composing original and unconventional scores such as those for Kuhle Wampe oder: Wem gehört die Welt? (1932) and the documentary Nuit et brouillard ( Night and Fog , 1955). Peer Raben (b. 1940) lent a distinctive sound to the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder in several films, including Die Ehe der Maria Braun ( The Marriage of Maria Braun , 1979) and Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980). In Italy, Nino Rota forged an extremely important collaboration with Federico Fellini, as did Ennio Morricone with Sergio Leone. In the Soviet Union, Shostakovich continued to score films, including Grigori Kosintsev's Hamlet (1964) and King Lear (1975). Serge Prokofiev's (1891–1953) famous collaboration with Sergei Eisenstein resulted in the scores for Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan Groznyy ( Ivan the Terrible , part 1, 1944; part 2, 1958). In India, Ravi Shankar (b. 1920) scored Satyajit Ray's (1921–1992) Apu trilogy, and Ray himself scored his Ashani Sanket ( Distant Thunder , 1973) and Ghare-Baire ( The Home and the World , 1984). In Indian popular cinema, composers, arrangers, and "playback singers" like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle (who dub songs for the stars), rank high in a film's credits and achieve enormous popularity in their own right: a film's success can often depend on the "hit" status of its songs. In Japan, Fumio Hayasaka (1914–1955) collaborated with Akira Kurosawa on many of his early films, including Rashômon (1950), Ikiru ( To Live , 1952), and Shichinin no samurai ( Seven Samurai , 1954). Tôru Takemitsu (1930–1996), whose extraordinary range encompasses a variety of historical styles, worked in Japan with Hiroshi Teshigahara on Suna no onna ( Woman of the Dunes , 1964), with Kurosawa on Dodesukaden (1970) and Ran (1985), and with Nagisa Oshima on Tokyo senso sengo hiwa ( The Man Who Left His Will on Film , 1970); in France he worked on the omnibus film L'Amour à vingt ans ( Love at Twenty , 1962); and in Hollywood, at the end of his life, he scored Rising Sun (1993). The director Teinosuke Kinugasa (1896–1982) composed and recorded a score for his 1926 surrealist film Kurutta Ippeji ( A Page of Madness ) almost fifty years after its initial release. And Ryuichi Sakamoto crossed over from the world of popular music to the soundtrack with his score for Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983).

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